A few thoughts on hypocrisy
Mark 7:6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
One of the things that has jumped out at me in studying the epistle to the Romans is that Paul urges us to succumb to the power of the Holy Spirit and deny the things of the flesh. This imagery depicts a battle between two extreme powers in us. One is innate and integrally a part of our reality. The other is foreign to us, for its nature, values and motivations are all rooted in the character of God, which is righteousness that is not of us.
The encounter with the righteous is the very thing that makes the innate clear. In other words, the sin in our life is so pervasive and such a part of who we are that without God we are clueless to it. So when we encounter God we become acutely aware of how different we are. This is an epic struggle – to seek to sacrifice our own naturally sinful self in order to give room for God’s way in our lives. The only way for this to truly happen is to give our heart – the very nature of who we are over to God and give reign to God's Spirit.
So if we understand this and commit to it, how do we deal with our hypocrisy? What do I mean? It appears that once we commit our hearts & lives to God that we are now in a place where the Holy Spirit will just work through us. However, though true, we have to realize that while Jesus is now in us, He is not us. In other words, Jesus does not rid our bodies of our soul and proceeds to pour himself into our bodies. We are not displaced, we are transformed. To be transformed is more complex than to be displaced in that Jesus is now working in our hearts “renewing” us from the inside out. He is purifying, resetting, reprogramming, renovating, rewriting us from the inside out. Our minds are transformed not by some sort of spiritual “overwrite” that's no longer us, but by a spiritual transformation that connects who we are with God. We are actually changing. Change is a byproduct of education, awareness and revelation. This is what the word of God provides for us with the Holy Spirit. It is a process.
This brings me to hypocrisy. In that sanctification is a process of transformation it then becomes only obvious that on occasion, probably more than we'd like to admit, our weak mindedness will succumb to our flesh and we’ll sabotage the process. Thus leading to an act of hypocrisy.
Now imagine if someone, who knows of your relationship with Christ, happens to be a witness to your moment of failure and sees the byproduct of your weakness. Imagine that your sin impacted others – you were mean, you lied, you were selfish, whatever. In that moment of failure, would it be fair in your estimation, that your entire relationship with God be characterized as false and you be labeled a hypocrite because you failed to be the Christian others expected you to be? We would probably declare this as highly unfair.
This is why it's so important for us to refuse to allow ourselves to judge others on their faith. We have no insight into their epic struggle, no idea of what their victories have been in Christ and yet because we are aware of a failure we immediately wish to galvanize their failure by defining them through this event.
In scripture we see that time and time again we are called not to judge one another. We are called not to characterize others by their failures. Instead we are called to be compassionate, be graceful and be loving. Does this mean that we "excuse" our sin? No, by no means but if we are in a true relationship with God we will recognize our sin immediately through the conviction of the Holy Spirit and respond with repentance. In a spirit of hypocrisy repentance is oft suspended as we tend to be in a state of sin not an act of sin.
For this reason hypocrisy is a very serious condition. You see we don't know other people’s victories, failures, hearts or intent but we know ours.The point is that we are not to judge who is being hypocritical outside of ourselves. Hypocrisy is more than experiencing a behavioral setback – it is a matter of the heart. It is intentionally living as one thing while consciously knowing you are not.
If Christians are to guard against hypocrisy it is a call towards self-regulation that demands we ask ourselves the hard questions like “Do I really believe this ?” "Am I reflecting Christ?" Assess yourself, are you in a spiritual struggle? Or are you apathetic? Are you living to impress people around you or are you living with a desire to know Christ more intimately?
When we address hypocrisy it truly has to be a "come to Jesus" moment wrought with honesty because what we need to realize is that regardless of what we've convinced ourselves about our spiritual state, God knows the true nature of our heart. The worst kind of hypocrite is one who is a hypocrite to themselves. Thus it is crucial that we truly confront our own sin and not be sidetracked with the failures of others.
Think of it this way, if you are blessed enough to be conscious of your epic struggle between righteousness and sin in your own life, you really dont have time to take your eyes off of your enemy to worry about what others are doing. Stay focused, stay in Christ.